Hays UK blog


Building a culture to support automation in your procurement team

By Scott Dance, Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain



Digital technology and automation is transforming the world around us, including the workplace. The automation of certain functions should allow procurement professionals to enact more strategic innovation within their organisation, as doing so should allow them to spend less time extracting data and more time interpreting it to better support their case for change. It is no surprise, therefore, that procurement functions expect to invest in automation.

Getting automation into full swing

Our What Workers Want Report 2019 shows that investment in automation is top of the agenda for procurement leaders, with three quarters saying they are already investing, or plan to invest, in automation within their functional area. However, implementation is still in its infant stages, with almost half of employers saying they are still in the pre-investment, RFP or project planning stages of implementation. Furthermore, only 9% say they have already fully implemented automation in their organisation.

Delving deeper into specific job areas where procurement employers are currently making an investment, our research shows that there is not yet much investment in automation to support compliance, contract management or supplier analytics. That is not to say this won’t be the case going forward, however, as over 60% of employers believe all three areas would benefit from an investment in automation in the future.

No shortage of optimism for workplace automation

Happily, our research also shows that those working in procurement roles demonstrate greater levels of optimism than the UK overall when it comes to the positive impact that automation can have on their working lives, with 92% believing we should embrace automation in the workplace compared to the 86% UK average.

Culture is key

With automation plans underway, and implementation set to ramp up in the near future, you must ensure that you are prepared for the inevitable changes to come. Our survey shows that procurement respondents believe developing a culture that is open to change is the most important area on which to focus to ensure that digital transformation is a success. So how can you go about building a culture that is ready for change?

1. Hire based on attitude,not just skill sets

The prioritisation of culture when it comes to making digital transformation, and further automation, a success means you must consider how open to change your procurement team is. Finding candidates with an open mindset to change is essential to build a culture that is ready and adaptable to the changes ahead. To do so will likely involve a change in the way you hire, such as looking to new talent pools and considering different recruitment channels and new techniques to find and engage with those professionals who have the right attitude towards change.

2. Embrace lifelong learning

With today’s world constantly changing, lifelong learning is increasingly becoming key to success. Make sure your employees understand the direction your team is taking and create a training plan so investment in training is targeted correctly to make the most out of automation. Apart from traditional training formats, consider investing in more bite-sized resources that facilitate self-learning, and don’t forget about the benefits of online courses, attending free events and reading appropriate articles to get your team, and yourself, up to speed.

3. Adopt a software mindset

It is inevitable that your role will likely change as automation becomes more widespread. But this is not a reason to fear automation – instead, embrace the benefits that automation can bring to your role. Never be afraid to try something new or tackle something in a different way, and make sure you are displaying this at work. You may say you’re open to change but ensure your manager or prospective employer is aware of how flexible and adaptable you are to change.

To discover further insights into how automation is impacting jobs and the steps you can take to prepare, get your copy of the Hays What Workers Want Report 2019.

About this author

Scott joined Hays in 2002 as a Trainee Consultant, and is now Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain. With over 15 years’ experience, Scott advises clients on workforce management solutions, works with the industry institute CIPS as a trusted knowledge partner, and provides strategic leadership to Hays’ procurement and supply chain recruitment experts.


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